How Do Men Achieve “Dad Bods”?

dad bod.
Dad bod in action.

Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Steve Mason/Thinkstock.

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Answer by Sanjay Sabnani, CEO and dad:

A defining characteristic of the “dad bod” is the ability to detect musculature underneath a consistent layer of adipose insulation in a way that suggests fitness is an option that could easily be achieved if hedonism wasn’t a manlier and more compelling pursuit.

In order to achieve this physique, you must lose enough fat and lift enough weights so that your muscles and their outlines can be seen through your clothes. Visualize a sexy male celebrity like Adam Levine, but pretend that he crawled into a flesh suit that outwardly looks like you. Sure, you may look a bit puffy, but you stand and move like a person with strength, tone, agility, speed, and sex appeal. Your neck and chin must be tight and toned to suggest that a more slender and fit you is only a few weeks of training away. You must have pecs, not man boobs, to maintain this look, which is why many men with dad bods have barrel chests suggesting that they focus on these muscles.

Your goal is to look like a healthy and active man who has let himself get a little relaxed and comfortable like a young, new father might.

As someone who has recently lost a lot of weight and is approaching dad bod status, I believe the following approach will help:

Something to help with form and posture. My suggestion is Pilates, because the equipment makes it easier and safer, but yoga is also excellent if you can find a teacher who understands anatomy to ensure that you don’t get injured.

Hiking. Walking in nature on uneven terrain will help you develop a much better physique than running laps or doing cardio on static machines. Forcing yourself to climb and scramble will help tone your smaller muscles, which will naturally enhance and accentuate your more dominant muscle groups.

Weight training. Ideally using plyometrics and your own body weight instead of external weights or machines. The key is to get strong all over in a natural way. Overtraining or over developing any individual muscles reeks of the desperation of someone who has yet to reproduce.

Play. Everyone has a physical activity he or she enjoys. Whether it involves dancing, flying a kite, playing snooker, or team sports, it is critical that you engage in physical activity for fun because the resulting fluidity of motion will serve you well when you perform other physical acts with more confidence as a result.

Work. People should all have a form of labor that they force themselves to love and practice. For some this can involve gardening, cleaning the pool, working on cars, hunting, fishing, camping, or cooking. The key is that you make sure you have physical skills and not just the ability to move a lot of iron attached to a cable over pulleys.

Hopefully my answer helps you see the image of a content, playful young man who eats well, plays hard, and is as strong and fit as any situation demands, but without being vain enough to make his fitness a priority over more important things like family, work, and play. Once you recognize the spirit underlying the sexiness of a dad bod attaining it should be much easier.

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